The Basics of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the role of thinking in how we feel and what we do. 
There are several approaches to cognitive-behavioral therapy, including:

CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors rather than people, situations, and events.  The basic principle is: When we change the way we think about a situation we can feel and act better in it.

CBT is a brief therapy with the average number of sessions being about 16. 
CBT is able to be brief due to its didactic approach and use of homework assignments.  CBT explicitly establishes the point when the formal therapy will end usually through a collaborative process involving both the therapist and the patient. 

While CBT recognizes the importance of a good, trusting relationship between a therapist and patient, it focuses on change through learning how to think and act differently.  The relationship itself is not the mechanism of change but is rather a vehicle for the communication of knowledge that allows the patient to go forward with their life in a more effective way.

CBT emphasizes the Socratic Method as a means to help a patient check the validity of their thoughts by asking questions such as “how do you know this to be true?” or “could their be another reason for this?”.  Through such questioning a patient can develop a more rational view of their situation and arrive at more effective solutions.

CBT sets a specific agenda for each session and teaches specific techniques and concepts through role playing and other forms of practice.  It is highly directive and patients are shown how to think and behave in ways that make it possible for them to attain the goals they have set for their treatment.

CBT is based on the empirically supported notion that most emotional and behavioral reactions are learned.  The goal of CBT is thus an “unlearning” of ineffectual responses and a learning of new ways to address problem situations.

CBT encourages the use of inductive reasoning in which an individual views their thoughts as hypotheses to be tested.  Using this process a person can validate or invalidate their ideas about a situation and take appropriate action..

In-between formal sessions, CBT makes use of assigned reading and practice of techniques as homework to hasten the process of change .

CBT is an Empirically Validated / Evidence Based Therapy for the following disorders: